Fallacy of relative privation

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For the sociological term, see relative deprivation.

The fallacy of relative privation, or appeal to bigger problems, is an informal fallacy in which it is suggested an opponent's arguments should be dismissed or ignored, on the grounds of there existing more important problems, despite these issues being often completely unrelated to the subject at hand.[1]

A well-known example of this fallacy is the response "but there are children starving in Africa," with the implication that any issue less serious is not worthy of discussion; or the saying "I used to lament having no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.".[1]

The word whataboutery or whataboutism has been used to describe this line of argument when used in protesting inconsistent behaviour. e.g. "The British even have a term for it: whataboutery. If you are prepared to go to war to protect Libyan civilians from their government, then what about the persecuted in Bahrain?"[2]

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  1. ^ a b http://www.hevanet.com/kort/KING6.HTM
  2. ^ Romesh Ratnesar "In Defense of Inconsistency." Time (US edition) 28 March 2011

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